Good Samaritan Medical Dental Ministry travels to remote areas in Vietnam every summer to provide healthcare to those without access. I will be part of a team providing direct primary care to villagers in the province of Cao Bang. Our team will also bring much needed medical supplies and medicines, and provide transportation to regional hospitals for more serious cases.
We will be serving villagers living in Cao Bang, a mountainous region in Vietnam where access to care is difficult due to the rough terrain. Cao Bang is also one of the most impoverished provinces of Vietnam.
Our team consists of both medical professionals and students. We will be serving hundreds of villagers in Vietnam who otherwise could not access adequate healthcare. We will also be training the next generation of healthcare professionals interested in mission work as we work alongside our student volunteers. I also anticipate that we will have time to train local physicians as well.
Our patients reside in Cao Bang, the 3rd most impoverished province in Vietnam and accessing care is difficult due to the mountainous terrain. After a year of planning, our GSMDM team of 96 volunteers were able to see ~2500 patients and perform ~30 surgeries over the span of 2 weeks. We set up our clinic in local schools, and patients were able to receive primary, dental, and vision care as well as receive free medications. More serious cases were transported to the hospital over 4hours away for further management with our volunteer specialists.
The majority of our patients were local farmers from various mountain tribes who were grateful to be able to see a doctor without traveling for hours through the mountains. We saw many primary care complaints such as back pain and gastritis, but we also saw some more serious illnesses such as the young boy who was carried in by his father after he was suddenly unable to walk. We transported him to the hospital 5hours away where a CT scan showed a hip effusion likely due to infection. After our orthopedic specialist aspirated the effusion and irrigated the joint, this young boy was able to walk again.
Our mission also involved training local Vietnamese doctors who have been in an on going primary care training course with our program director. These doctors saw patients alongside us, and we were able to teach various procedural skills such as joint injection, as well as management of common primary care ailments like hypertension. We also brainstormed with them ways to address one of their most common public health issues: alcoholism. Hopefully, these doctors will be able to provide primary care to the region and train future generations of doctors.
I am grateful to Dox Foundation for supporting me and enabling me to both serve and teach in my first ever medical mission trip. It reminded me again of why I went into medicine.